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Being Productive Is About Using The Morning Well. Here’s The Trick You Should Start Today.

Being Productive Is About Using The Morning Well. Here’s The Trick You Should Start Today.

Being productive can be hard. Perhaps you’ve fallen into a routine of getting up at a certain time, getting into work and slumping down at your desk or place of work with no energy, motivation or direction. We live in a society where procrastination is literally at our fingertips with social media and access to smart phones causing endless distractions and taking away our focus.

However, there is a way to achieve this – a way to achieve optimal performance and productivity – that can change your whole outlook on the traditional work life and transforming each day into a happier, more productive and flexible option.

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It’s All About The Mornings

If you’re not a morning person then it may be time to change your mindset – research has found there is an ideal structure to your day that creates optimum results and also the flexibility we crave when we’re stuck in our 9-5 framework. The problem with our current 9-5 tradition of working is that it forces us to work at times when our brain isn’t motivated. We have the mindset that we have a long day to get our work done which causes our brain to go into relaxation mode and it becomes harder to focus.

Like exercise, our bodies gain better results when we do short, intense periods rather than long, drawn out methods. It’s then in the recovery process where growth occurs – like muscles recovering after an intense workout.

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So what does this mean? Well, the best way to achieve optimum work productivity is to focus intensely for the first 3 hours of your day. This is the optimum time that our brains work – straight after sleep when willpower and self-control is at its maximum.

How The First 3 Hours Can Save Your Day

It may not feel like it when you first wake up but your energy levels are at their optimum following sleep and these energy levels are gradually depleted as the day progresses meaning it’s harder for you to focus and make decisions.

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How often have you dragged yourself to work and headed straight for the coffee machine because you can’t possibly function until you’re at least on your third cup of caffeine? This is where you’re potentially going wrong – the first 3 hours of your day will ultimately make you or break you.

It’s during this period that you can power through and make the most of your day. Creating a routine where the first 3 hours are intense periods of work, with pure focus and no distractions will actually cause you to complete the majority of your work at a more optimum level leaving the rest of the day for your brain to relax and deal with less taxing projects.

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In fact, if you liken it to exercise, doing a 3-hour intense work period will cause you to reap the benefits later on in the day because the rest of the day will become a recovery period. After exercise, this is when your muscles start to recover and get stronger, and similarly after working your brain intensely for 3 hours, the recovery period afterwards causes the mind to loosely wander and creative ideas and inspirations start to enter.

How To Implement The 3-Hour Morning

Your morning is the key to a successful day so it’s best to start getting into a morning mindset. That means getting to bed at a reasonable time managing to get a full night’s sleep so you wake refreshed and ready for the day.

  1. Wake as early as possible: Try and start a routine of getting up early because the more hours you have in the morning, the more time you have to be productive for the rest of the day. It’s not actually as hard as you think, after a couple of weeks your body and mind will start to get used to early rises and it will begin to become second nature (especially when you realise the true benefits).
  2. Eat a good protein-rich breakfast: It’s essential that you start the day with a good eating routine and that means the right kind of fuel for your brain and the rest of your body so you can work at your optimum level first thing. A protein-rich breakfast will help regulate blood-sugar levels and stop hunger pangs later on in the morning.
  3. Avoid stimulants: Getting up early, you’ll be tempted to grab that cup of coffee but avoid anything that will wake you up unnaturally. A good way to wake up is to switch your water to cold in the last minute of showering to give you a boost.
  4. Meditate: Meditation is an amazing way to focus and clear the mind and doing this first thing will help calm your whole body and set your mindset up for the morning. It helps give clarity for any goals you have or even bring inspiration to a problem you might be having. You can do this before you leave the house, on your commute to work if you have one, or once you arrive at work.
  5. Put away all distractions: The beauty of getting up early is that there are less people to distract you or cause you stress. Make sure you put away your phone and make a conscious effort not to check social media or emails for the next 3 hours. Listening to a song on repeat or music such as sounds of nature are a good way to help focus the brain and stop outside noises from interrupting your concentration.
  6. Once done, take a mental break and notice the calming difference and sense of achievement: This may seem like an unconventional way to use your mornings and possibly take time to get used to, but it’s all worth it for the sense of achievement and efficiency you’ll feel. The chances are this act of focusing for 3 hours will have caused you to get much more work done than a whole typical day put together. After the 3 hours, go for a walk and take a break – your mind will feel relaxed which will then be the optimum time for creativity to occur allowing the best ideas to come to you.

So remember to protect your mornings. Some of us will find this hard especially if, say, you have kids to run around after or have a particularly long commute but adopting the mindset of making your mornings precious and distraction-free can help structure a much more productive and happy day.

Featured photo credit: unsplash.com via pexels.com

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems.

In this article, you will learn why it isn’t easy to build new habits, and how to change habits.

What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

The Biology

Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

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Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

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Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

The Psychology

Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

1. Identify Your Habits

As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

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2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

3. Apply Logic

You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

4. Choose an Alternative

As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

5. Remove Triggers

Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

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6. Visualize Change

Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

Final Thoughts

Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

More About Changing Habits

Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

Reference

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